The Kinta Nature Park has officially joined the ranks of Perak’s natural treasures.
Located 6km south of Batu Gajah, it is now Perak’s third state gazzetted park, after the Royal Belum and Pulau Sembilan.
State tourism, arts, culture, communication and multimedia committee chairman Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohammed Radzi said the 395ha park promises an enriching experience for bird watchers.
“We believe it is one of the biggest bird sanctuaries in the country, as there are currently more than 150 bird species here.
“Along with flora and fauna that is hard to find elsewhere, we are expecting this park to be a major attraction to both domestic and foreign tourists,” she said after the park’s opening ceremony.
State executive councillor Datuk Saarani Mohamad was present to open the park, on behalf of Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir.
The park is open to the public from 8am to 6pm daily. Visitors can enjoy activities such as bird watching and trail hiking.
Nolee Ashilin said entry to the park is free of charge for the rest of the year.
“We will begin to charge an entrance fee from Jan 1 and the funds will be used to ensure the park’s maintenance,” she said.
As part of efforts to preserve the park’s pristine condition, Nolee Ashilin said only 80 to 100 visitors will be allowed to visit the park a day, and no overnight camping is currently allowed.
“We are doing this to ensure that this area, gifted to us by Mother Nature, will not be destroyed.
“This is also why the state has decided to gazette the area as a state park, so that we can continue to preserve and conserve it based on laws and regulations,” she said, adding that all activities and facilities must adhere to the requirements and conditions set by the Perak State Park Cooperation.
“We do not want to jeopardise the unique ecosystem here in the name of tourism,” she said.
Kinta Nature Park was mentioned as “the place to discover wild nature escapes” by renowned travel guide Lonely Planet in its listing of Ipoh as the sixth best place in Asia to visit last year.
Located about 40km from Ipoh, the park, consisting of 14 former mining ponds, was set up in 2000 with the cooperation of the Malaysian Nature Society and the Kinta Barat District Council then.
Although the park was previously said to cover 950ha, Nolee Ashilin said state authoritites decided to reduce the gazetted area to a more manageable size.
“We also found that this is the best way for locals here to continue with their economic activities around the park.
“We want to ensure that their livelihoods are looked after,” she said in response to a question on whether the size of the park was reduced due to illegal duck farms, net fishing and sand mining activities, as mentioned in previous reports.
Restoration works on the park’s existing watchtower, toilets, pavilions, walkway and power substation had commenced last December.
The project also involved the cleaning up of the entire camp area, the setting up new perimeter fencing and replacing its old storage facility, as well as the construction of a new pavilion together with new signage for the area.